New survey report reveals Whole Foods’ failure to cut back on plastic waste

Media Contacts
Pam Clough

Former Advocate, Environment Washington Research & Policy Center

Dax Tate

Former Zero Waste Campaign Associate, WashPIRG Foundation

SEATTLE –  WashPIRG Foundation, Environment Washington Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group released a new report on Thursday that surveyed plastic packaging used on Whole Foods’ in-house ‘365’ brand products. The report, entitled Whole Foods Plastic Problem: A survey report on single-use packaging at Whole Foods, finds that despite the company’s efforts to reduce plastic use, fewer than 50% of the products surveyed available in plastic-free packaging in the majority of Whole Foods stores.

“Plastic waste is clogging our landfills, littering our streets, polluting our parks and escaping into our rivers and oceans at a rate of 8 million tons a year. Plastic packaging, like plastic food wrappers, is the one of the most commonly found items of trash polluting our beaches,” said Dax Tate, Zero Waste Associate with WashPIRG Foundation. “To reduce the effects of plastic pollution, corporations need to do their part to eliminate single-use plastic packaging. Our report demonstrates that many Whole Foods food items are needlessly packaged in plastic.”

The survey classified items in three categories: full plastic, partial plastic and plastic free. Many of the products were packaged in unnecessary plastic:  yogurt, for example, came in plastic containers in all 27 stores.

The report recommends that Whole Foods takes fairly simple steps, such as removing transparent plastic windows on chip bags and pasta boxes and removing plastic packaging from produce, to reduce its stores’ excess plastic waste.

“Whole Foods, once a leader on reducing plastics, is falling short on protecting our planet and eliminating waste produced in its stores,” said Pam Clough, Advocate with Environment Washington Research & Policy Center. “For the sake of America’s waterways and wild creatures that are choking on plastics, we urge Whole Foods to do much more to reduce unnecessary plastic packaging waste.”


WashPIRG Foundation is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.

Environment Washington Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.

Frontier Group is a nonpartisan research and policy development center, providing information and ideas to help build a cleaner, healthier and more democratic America.

WashPIRG Foundation, Environment Washington Research and Policy Center and Frontier Group are part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.